Land owner Karl Russo, pictured, plans to revegetate the property he recently bought and said the support he’s received has been “unbelievable”. Helping to carry out the project were students Toli Harrison, Bella Tappy and Ashlee Dobson. N123217

The steep gullies provided some challenges but the students were up for it. N133217

AROUND 200 Year 9 Wonthaggi Secondary College students joined forces with the Bass Coast Landcare Network last week to carry out one of the biggest mass planting days the region has ever seen.
They planted close to 16,000 trees in three hours on a steep Glen Forbes property which overlooks Western Port.
When landscape architect Karl Russo bought 100 acres of steep country a few months back, he knew it wasn’t for farming purposes.
“I’ve never been interested in farming. I want to revegetate as much of the land as possible and bring it back to the cool temperate rain forest that it was before it was cleared.”
But standing at the top of the property, and calculating there’s probably 150 acres of surface area to plant, he realised he’d need some help.
“I got in touch with Dave Bateman from the Bass Coast Landcare Network. He assessed the scale of the project and has really taken the bull by the horns.”
It has become part of the Western Port Biolinks project, funded through the Melbourne Water Stream Frontage Partnership involving the Bass Coast Shire Council and facilitated by the Bass Coast Landcare Network.
This is just the first stage, which also included a planting and preparation session with Green Army members and Intrepid Landcare (Landcare for under 35s) planted 4200 plants a few days earlier.
“The plan here is to get 25,000 trees in this winter, and the same next winter, and maybe again after that,” Karl said.
He said the support he’s received from Landcare has been “unbelievable”.
Karl will be able to watch the forest grow before his eyes.
“We’re designing our family home at the moment, so that’s the plan.”
Dave said Thursday’s event was the biggest tree planting day the network has carried out in 20 years.
“We’d like to thank the Russo family for allowing this great planting to happen on their property and Melbourne Water and the Green Army for helping out.”
Given the terrain, students received a full OH&S briefing prior to planting.
Around 30 Landcare staff and member volunteers where there to provide some handy hints and motivation before the students dug in.
President of the Bass Valley Landcare Group Lew Potter urged the students to plant species randomly, as nature intended.
When the job was done, a barbecue was waiting for them at the nearby Woolamai Racecourse prepared by members of the Rotary Club of Wonthaggi – 600 snags and 300 burgers to be precise.
If you are interested in Landcare or tree planting on your property, visit www.basscoastlandcare.org.au